Sunday, December 21, 2014

What American children want for Christmas (2014 edition)

Earlier this month I wrote about the @TweetsofOld Twitter account and its excerpts from children's letters to Santa in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Kids wanted dolls, toy trains, bicycles, fruit and, sadly, guns and rifles.

Compare those old-time requests with these (verbatim) 2014 requests of Santa that appeared in a December 7 publication by LNP Media Group of Lancaster, Pennsylvania (my employer):

  • Dear Santa, You are good. I would like my little pony, pop ponyies, and an American Girl dog. Love, Abby, 7.
  • Dear Santa, On December can I have an Ever After High Diary and one Ever After High dolls and one dollhouse and a iphone toy. Your friend, Camille.
  • Dear Santa, I really like your presents. I want American Girl Isabelle and crafts. I will have cookies and milk for you and will make reindeer food. Love, Delaney, 5.
  • Dear Santa, I need a PS3 and a Xbox PS100 and a new computer and a new iPhone and a new book and a new jacket and a new toy and a new backpack. Love, Joshua.
  • Dear Santa, Please bring me: Peppa Pig, Hello Kitty, books, paper, dog toys and love and safety for my family and friends. Love, Julianna, 5.
  • Dear Santa, My name is Nevaeh. I'm 9 years old now. Pretty old right. I want toys, treats, and a bigger cage for my hamster. Hers is too small. Can I also get a babby that you can feed real food. And some Monster high dolls Sceliton Moth, Katty Mora, Toralie that's all. Nevaeh, 9. P.S. Say hi to miss jingle. can you find her a boyfriend?
  • Hi Santa, I know i was not very good this year but i am trying to stay on the good list. I hope i get what i want from you this year. I am going to let some cookies out for you. Well i hope i see you soon. Kayla H., 6.
  • Dr Santa, Mi nam z Ryan! I lik tu H R Wr B L S! HW DU U Str URS IA? LV. Ryan, 5.
  • Dear Santa, Can I have a toy, a unicorn also can I have a necklace also a computer. Your friend, Natalee, 6.
  • Dear Santa, I want a toy. I love you Santa because you give me food. I like food is my favorite. Love Yurana.
  • Dear Santa, I want for Christmas a laptop and I wont a self-oon. Love, Zion.
  • Dear Santa, Can I please have a yoyo. And a toy for my kitty cat. Thank you. Mackenzie, 5.
  • Dear Santa, I am sorry I was a naughty boy this year but if you get me a PS3 I will be good next year. I promise. From, Mason, 7.
  • Dear Santa, guess I want a lot of things this year. But you can tell your elves they can leave some off. Love, Brayden. 6. PS I will leave 4 cookies for you and 1 glass of milk!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Vintage Christmas postcard:
Two girls with their gift on a sled

The date is obscured on this card's postmark, but it's generally in the range of a century old, with its green George Washington one-cent stamp. The "Made in U.S.A." card features young girls in red and blue outfits and a sled with a holly-adorned Christmas present aboard.

The message on the front states:
"Christmas Wishes.
A dear old thought dressed up anew
A message of Christmas from me to you."
The postcard was mailed to Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, and the message on the back states:
"Many kisses for the dear boy and Best-Wishes for all
Meanwhile, I also discovered, thanks to the power of Google, that this postcard is also being featured this year on what is basically the Swedish-language version of Papergreat (only much cooler).

The blog is titled Gamla vykort, which translates roughly to Old Postcards. The September 30, 2014, post was titled "Julkort med vers (från Amerika och Kanada 1909-1929)," and it features this postcards and other wonderful vintage Christmas postcards from the United States and Canada. You should check it out. I also recommend the most recent post, titled "Flickan av snö - Snegorotjka."

From 1913: Combining Christmas greetings and gossipmongering

In this attractive blue-and-gold Christmas postcard from December 1913, Jane simply cannot help herself.

After writing "Merry Xmas and Happy New Year" as her perfunctory note, she adds:
"P.S. What did he preacher do? Do tell me."

Friday, December 19, 2014

1912 Christmas postcard mailed to a place called Foltz, Pennsylvania

This card was postmarked the morning of December 23, 1912, in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania. It was sent to a Mrs. Emma Berger in Foltz, Pennsylvania. Waynesboro and Foltz are both located in Franklin County. So, presumably, the postal workers knew precisely where to send this letter. But it would seem that Foltz has fallen a bit "off the radar" during the past century. The website Roadside Thoughts, a gazetteer documenting the current and past communities of the United States and Canada, notes only the following: "At this time, we have very little information about Foltz. We found a mention of this community during our research. Although we've added it to our Gazetteer, we have few details."

There were many individuals with the last name Foltz in Franklin County, southcentral Pennsylvania, and elsewhere in the 19th century. See, for example, this genealogy site and this genealogy site.

The note on the back of this colorful postcard states:
"Christmas Greetings to you all. did Myra get home all right — sorry we can't come this time
Love to all.
I guess we'll never know if, indeed, Myra got home all right.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

In support and defense of tiny Christmas cards

Why do Christmas cards and greeting cards in general have to be so big? It might seem contradictory for an ephemera lover and a traditional book lover to be a conservationist, but I am. We need to use our trees and paper more responsibly.

I like smaller Christmas cards. And it seems as if the challenges of having less space leads to more creativity and beauty on the cards. Decisions have to be made about using the space in the best way possible. When you have a fold-out card the size of Godzilla, there's no room for subtlety.

The best of all, of course, would be smaller Christmas cards printed on recycled paper. Or recycling old Christmas cards to create new offerings.

Tonight's vintage card is not much larger than a business card. It's just a smidge over four inches by two inches. It features a wonderfully cozy living room scene. This tiny card has so much attention to detail that there's another winter scene taking place outside the window.

Other Papergreat posts featuring the word "cozy"

Merry Christmas from The Gazette and Daily of York, Pa.

This thin sheet of paper contains a jolly Christmas and New Year's greeting from The Gazette and Daily, once "the boys' and girls' newspaper" here in York, Pennsylvania. It is the predecessor of the York Daily Record/Sunday News.

It likely dates to the 1940s, give or take a decade. The design of the card shares some similarities to a birthday greeting card from The Gazette and Daily that I featured back in August 2013.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Santa's Christmas Rocket coloring book (1982)

Last December I featured a circa-1971 Christmas-themed fun book from the York Mall. This one is of a more recent vintage. The 1982 publication of Handi-Ad Printing Company is called Santa's Christmas Rocket and it is stamped with the name and address of the West Manchester Mall here in York.1

The coloring book features the adventures of Becky and Bobby and, yes, Santa's rocket. On Page 1, Santa invites the two children aboard his rocket to "visit the galaxy." Then he shows them a map of the planets they will visit. By Page 3, he's explaining the rocket's controls to Becky and Bobby, showing them a lever labeled "FASTER." The exact science of the rocket is unclear. Santa then inexplicably lays down on the floor and takes a nap, turning full control of the ship over to these two children he has just met. Instead of flying the ship, however, Becky and Bobby take advantage of Santa's nap to dig through his sack of toys, which they likely did not have permission to do. Then things get weird, with LSD possibly involved. They meet presumably alien creatures called Hairheds, Dractidecs and Boolies, and placate them with various toys from Santa's bag. Santa, who conveniently has a human-sized lollipop, gives it one of the giants on Glopuso, a planet I am unfamiliar with. Becky then reads Mother Goose to the Nannas, a race of disturbingly anthropomorphic bananas. Finally, they give both a fire truck and the gift of fire to a race called the Mimfies, and it is unclear that their civilization is ready for those advances. Fortunately (?) the final page involves Becky and Bobby waking up to find the whole thing was a dream. It is not, however, explained how they shared the same dream.

The back page of Santa's Christmas Rocket features an advertisement for the commercial real estate company Crown American, which remains based in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Crown American was originally responsible for many of Pennsylvania's smaller-town malls, the type that people like me grew up with in the 1970s and 1980s. They were involved, for example, with the North Hanover Mall, Nittany Mall, Capital City Mall, Chambersburg Mall and Lycoming Mall.

I have just now realized that my wife wrote about this same coloring booklet on her blog, Only in York County, in 2012. And, best of all, she scanned all of the trippy coloring pages, so you can see exactly what I'm talking about when I say that this is one weird booklet.

1. As I write this, the West Manchester Mall is undergoing a major renovation that will turn it into the West Manchester Town Center. Sarah and I went inside a couple of days ago and the few remaining businesses include the movie theater and a comic-book store (where we browsed the Batman offerings). The renovations will make it more of an open-air mall, with exterior storefronts rather than an indoor gallery. That configuration will make it less useful as a potential hiding place in the event of a zombie uprising.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

1915 Christmas postcard: "Nothing Too Good For The Baby"

This postcard, featuring a grumpy-looking baby surrounded by toys, was postmarked on the afternoon of December 22, 1915, in York, Pennsylvania, and mailed to Master Sickler in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania (a 50-mile straight shot to the west on Lincoln Highway).

The message on the back states:
"Sincere good wishes to all for the yuletide and a bright, happy 1916 from all of The [illegible]."
The signed last name could be Oserpick, Osirpick, Oserfrick, Osirfrick, Aserpick, Asirpick, Aserfrick, Asirfrick or none of the above. Hard to tell.

That makes me grumpy like this guy.